Rifle chamber wants local contracts for Grand River
As voters in the Grand River Hospital District decide on a $89.4 million bond issue, the Rifle Chamber of Commerce said it is troubled by the lack of assurance that local contractors would win business from the two major construction projects the bonds would finance.
“We have concern with the fact that the Grand River Hospital District does not have a local preference policy which would require use of a certain percentage of local [within district] businesses during the construction phase of the project,” the chamber said an email to the Post Independent.
Registered voters were mailed ballots last month that must be returned by Nov. 7.
“We obviously know it’s late,” said Ryan Gilbert, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rifle chamber. “If it does pass, it could start a conversation and it would be great to see Grand River take steps to put [a local preference policy in place]. We are just bringing up the issue and letting Grand River know.”
Gilbert said that the chamber is neutral on whether the bond initiative should pass, but wants to be sure that Rifle’s business community is being supported.
Annick Pruett, communications director for Grand River Hospital said that while “Grand River does not have a written local preference policy, we do have a longstanding practice of using local vendors whenever possible. We have always encouraged our local contractors to submit a proposal whenever we have had an RFP.”
She added that the hospital looks at a variety of factors when awarding business to vendors, including quality, qualifications, timeliness, responsiveness, customer service and cost.
“Our practice is and will continue to be, if we have two contractors who both meet the criteria, we will select the local contractor/vendor every time,” she concluded.
The hospital district is seeking money to rebuild the 50-year-old E. Dene Moore Care Center, as well as to double the number of overnight beds at Grand River Hospital from 12 to 25 so it would have to send fewer patients needing to be admitted to Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs.
Supporters say the care center’s plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems are out of date. The bond would double its capacity, cutting a waiting list, and allow each resident to have a private room with a window.
Gilbert said the issue of local preference was brought to the chamber’s attention by local businesses. The chamber is “here to serve the local business community,” he said, which is why the chamber felt the need to shed a light on this less than two weeks before the vote. He would like to see taxpayers benefit and the money used locally.
In the email, the chamber said that approximately 70 percent of the money going to local contractors would stay in the community, compared with 40 percent if the money goes to out-of-district contractors.
“Relative to Ballot Issue 4A, based on the $89.4 million cost of construction, approximately $36 million of the $89.4 million would stay in the local economy if local contractors are not used,” the email said.
That number reaches $63 million if all contractors are within the district.
“We feel that the approximately $27 million difference in local vs. non-local spending is significant and we would like to work with Grand River on putting a local preference policy in place that would require use of local contractors to the extent possible for this project,” the email added.
While Gilbert was hesitant to single out a particular company or contractor qualified to do the work, he said several contractors came to mind that would be excellent candidates for the projects.
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Rifle and New Castle are seeing decent increases in tax revenue, according to financial administrators.